A/V footage used as probable cause in O’Connor arrest

OKEECHOBEE — A store surveillance system served as physical evidence to attest to victim’s claim against Okeechobee City Councilman.

Okeechobee City Councilman, Michael Gerald O’Connor, 77, was arrested at his home on May 24, at 8:17 a.m. by Okeechobee Police Department Detective, James Pickering, on an Okeechobee County felony warrant charging him with tampering with or harassing a victim and a misdemeanor charge of battery. His bond was set at $5,500. He has since been released on bond.

According to an arrest affidavit, on May 21, the victim informed the Okeechobee Police Department that on May 19, she was pushed and grabbed by O’Connor during a dispute at Mike’s Okeechobee Guns, located in the 100 block of Southwest Park Street. The victim further informed that she attempted to call 911 but O’Connor took the cell phone away from her.

She reportedly stated that she then went behind the counter of the store — where she is an employee and O’Connor is the owner — and attempted to use the land line phone to call 911 when O’Connor supposedly rushed and pushed her into a cabinet, following with him ripping the phone from her hand.

The report continued that the phone call went through and the 911 dispatch operator was able to hear the victim and O’Connor screaming at one another. The woman further informed law enforcement that she was injured during the altercation that ensued, with her exposing a large abrasion on the right lower back and upper buttock area.

The injured area was reportedly photographed and submitted into evidence along with the audio/video recording from the store’s security surveillance system.

On May 22, law enforcement secured the video. They reportedly were able to see the altercation, hear the victim call for help multiple times along with O’Connor taking the phone and pushing her away. According to the report the audio/video surveillance corroborated the victim’s story as to how her injury occurred as well as O’Connor denying the use of the land line and her cell phone to contact 911 services.

Councilman Mike O’Connor

Okeechobee’s City Administrator, Marcos Montes De Oca stated, “This is an unfortunate incident and casts a shadow on our city. I want to express appreciation to our police department for doing their jobs and completing a thorough investigation in a very professional manner.

“It is my understanding Councilman O’Connor continues to be cooperative and courteous to law enforcement. The City of Okeechobee will await any word from the state attorney’s office as to what charges will be filed and the governor’s office as to any potential suspension of his seat.

“As the charges are not related to his seat, we do not advocate any position on a potential suspension. Our prayers go out to the family involved in this tragic occurrence.”

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